In SCOTUS McCain-Feingold Decision, People Miss The Best Way To Reduce Monetary Influence In Elections

If you haven’t heard about the SCOTUS decision, here’s a little recap

Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle – that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.

Quite frankly, I agree with the notion that unfettered corporate money flooding the pockets of politicians is not always a good thing. Would you agree? However, the 1st Amendment is the 1st Amendment, and should not be applied unequally. The Right has had issues with this part of McCain-Feingold because of the Constitutionality, and, while the little folks on the Left cheered this restriction, the big folks realized that Democrats tend to get big donations from corporations much more than Republicans did, so it would hurt them.

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The Obama admin. had a tizzy, decrying the decision in no uncertain terms, then running off to interact, and perhaps hire, a few more lobbyists.

Ralph Nadar’s group, Public Citizen, is calling for a Constitutional amendment to restrict the free speech rights of corporations. But, don’t say the left hates the Constitution.

SCOTUSblog discusses the potential for new laws to try and circumvent this ruling (and then a lawsuit can be filed for violating the redress of grievance portion of the 1st)

Congress conceivably could attack the perceived problem of money-in-politics by another indirect means, by tightening restrictions on dealings between lobbyists and elected officials, including legislators. Lobbying, too, has First Amendment protection, but it is an activity that can be regulated at least at the level of disclosure. A drastic approach might be to expand the concept of questionable vote-buying, by requiring a more detailed public accounting of how lawmakers vote in relation to lobbyists with whom they deal directly and in relation to the industries who may benefit from legislative favors that flow out of the lobbyists’ efforts. One perhaps frivolous suggestion already making the rounds of political conversation is to require legislators to wear NASCAR-style uniforms, emblazoned with the logos of their corporate “sponsors.”

They also mention a move towards full public financing. And lots of other people have lots to say, both left and right. But, they are all missing the simpest, most direct, and far reaching method of reducing the actual influence on money in politics: restrictions on elected officials. Sure, there have been some put in place over time, yet, they are mostly ignored, until someone is caught being really, really bad. And what happens to that person? In some cases, jail. In most cases, perhaps a hearing, a smackdown, then it is time to move along.

So, if people want something done, then the massive restrictions need to be placed on the elected officicials. And government employees of all stripes. “You want to “donate” $100,000 to my campaign? Sure. Thanks. Appreciate. But, by law, I cannot reciprocate and submit a law that is favorable for you. Period. I prefer not to be impeached for breaking the law.” Because it is not the money donated that is truly the problem, it is the people who the money is donated to that are the problem.

Most of us small donors give money to candidates that tend to espouse the same political beliefs we have, and, all we expect is that they vote the way they promised. Corporations expect laws to be written to their benefit. Make that quid pro quo near impossible with restrictions on those elected officials.

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